Published in The Wall Street Journal
Your editorial "Realtors Face an Antitrust Reckoning" (Oct. 16) mischaracterizes what is at stake for consumers in Burnett v. National Association of Realtors. Don’t fall for the hype by class-action attorneys about how local multiple-listing service (MLS) broker marketplaces work.
In response to the marketplace, and at the urging of consumer advocates, the National Association of Realtors has developed guidance for local MLS broker marketplaces. It is part of a very public rule-making process aimed at creating the most consumer-friendly market possible.
These virtual marketplaces are efficient, transparent and accurate because of cooperation among real-estate professionals. Listing brokers make offers of compensation to buyer brokers, who bring buyers to the table. Those offers can be of any amount, even zero, and the National Association of Realtors doesn’t tell practitioners what to charge.
That compensation is set between the brokers and their clients and is always negotiable. According to Real Trends, commissions rates are well below where they were in the 1990s.
Realtors deliver a lot of value for the $50,000 they make annually, on average, as they guide consumers through all the legal, financial and community complexities of buying a home. Class-action attorneys would take away buyer representation, and black, Hispanic/Latino, first-time and low- and middle-income buyers would be hurt the most, according to a May 2022 study.
The National Association of Realtors looks out for consumers with its rules for local MLS broker marketplaces. In reality, the market—and hence the consumer—is in the driver’s seat when it comes to real-estate commissions. That will all be evident as the National Association of Realtors makes its case in court.
President, National Association of Realtors